ProPublica

AllSides Media Bias Rating™: Lean Left
2363/1690
The bias meter value for ProPublica is -2.00. -6 is the furthest "Left" value and 6 is the furthest "Right" value.
-2.00
Lean Left What does this mean?

How we determined this rating:

  • Independent Review
  • Community Feedback:   ratings
  • AllSides has high confidence in this bias rating.

Unless otherwise noted, this bias rating refers only to online news coverage, not TV, print, or radio content.

Learn about our bias rating methods
ProPublica
Bias Rating Lean Left
Type News Media
Region National
Owner Donor supported Nonprofit
Established 2007
Website propublica.org
Twitter @ProPublica
Facebook propublica
Wikipedia ProPublica
What a Lean Left Bias Rating Means

The source displays media bias in ways that moderately align with liberal, progressive, or left-wing thought and/or policy agendas.

Learn more about Lean Left ratings
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About ProPublica's Bias Rating

ProPublica is featured on the AllSides Media Bias Chart™.

ProPublica is a news media source with an AllSides Media Bias Rating™ of Lean Left.

What a "Lean Left" Rating Means

Sources with an AllSides Media Bias Rating of Lean Left display media bias in ways that moderately align with liberal, progressive, or left-wing thought and/or policy agendas. A Lean Left bias is a moderately liberal rating on the political spectrum.

Learn more about Lean Left ratings

Bias Reviews

We use multiple methods to analyze sources. Learn how we rate media bias.

ProPublica has a Lean Left bias.

AllSides Confirms Lean Left Rating for ProPublica After Clarence Thomas Report: April 2023 Small Group Editorial Review

After ProPublica published a report in April 2023 about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas committing potential ethics violations, we noticed an influx of traffic to this page, and decided to conduct an Editorial Review.

AllSides team members on the left, in the center, and on the right reviewed ProPublica's content, and agreed that the Lean Left rating should remain. AllSides reviewers on the center and right both noted that ProPublica focuses mainly on issues of importance to the political left, such as abortion rights and taxing the rich, and sometimes frames conservative causes negatively.

AllSides Moves ProPublica From Center to Lean Left: April 2020 Independent Review

An April 2020 AllSides independent review found that ProPublica's bias is Lean Left. ProPublica's "Zero Tolerance" section on President Trump's immigration policy included mostly pieces about children being separated from their families at the border, with no right-wing perspectives on the policy to be found. ProPublica's Politics section includes mostly pieces critical of or investigating right-wing leaders, and few pieces on left-wing politicians. Examples of top pieces include:

The independent reviewer also noted some series in ProPublica's Healthcare section used sensationalism, a type of media bias, with series titles such as: "A Sick System," "Heart Failure," "Lost Mothers," and "Wasted Medicine." Other top pieces at the time of review included left-leaning topics such as, "What ProPublica is Doing About Diversity in 2020," and "The Hate Store: Amazon’s Self-Publishing Arm Is a Haven for White Supremacists."

ProPublica Media Bias Rating Prior to April 2020

Prior to 2020, AllSides rated ProPublica has having a Center bias. Our CEO noted that this rating was the result of motivated reasoning — he really wanted ProPublica to be Center. But upon further review, it's just not the case. AllSides issued this initial bias rating for ProPublica based on the following articles:

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Community Feedback

Feedback does not determine ratings, but may trigger deeper review.

As of April 2024, people have voted on the AllSides Media Bias Rating for ProPublica. On average, those who disagree with our rating think this source has a Lean Left bias.

Confidence Level

Confidence is determined by how many reviews have been applied and consistency of data.

As of April 2024, AllSides has high confidence in our Lean Left rating for ProPublica. Two or more bias reviews have affirmed this rating or the source is transparent about bias.

Additional Information

Third-Party Accusations of ProPublica's Left Bias

A June 2023 piece in The Daily Caller headlined, "ProPublica's Top Donors Also Bankroll Activist Groups Targeting Justice Clarence Thomas." It stated that ProPublica "has many of the same donors as multiple groups actively campaigning for Thomas to be investigated or to resign, according to tax documents reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation."

Also in June 2023, The Federalist published a piece stating, "ProPublica is funded by the top far-left billionaires in the country. The Sandler Foundation is a left-wing group founded by Herbert Sandler, a billionaire who enriched himself with shady lending practices that many say fueled the 2008 housing crash. It has given ProPublica more than $40 million. The Sandler Foundation also funds Demand Justice, a left-wing group, headed by Hillary Clinton’s former adviser, which has called for court packing. The Sandler Foundation isn’t alone. ProPublica also receives millions in funding from the Foundation to Promote an Open Society, which is backed by left-wing billionaire George Soros, and others."

A 2011 Fox News Opinion piece, "Why Don't We Hear About Soros' Ties to Over 30 Major News Organizations?" (updated in May 2015), noted that ProPublica "initially was given millions of dollars from the Sandler Foundation to “strengthen the progressive infrastructure” – “progressive” being the code word for very liberal. In 2010, it also received a two-year contribution of $125,000 each year from the Open Society Foundations. In case you wonder where that money comes from, the OSF website is www.soros.org. It is a network of more than 30 international foundations, mostly funded by Soros, who has contributed more than $8 billion to those efforts." Fox News Opinion noted that ProPublica pieces are "thoroughly researched by top-notch staffers who used to work at some of the biggest news outlets in the nation. But the topics are almost laughably left-wing," citing investigations into "oil companies, gas companies, the health care industry, for-profit schools and more."

About ProPublica

ProPublica bills itself as "an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest." Its stated Mission is:

To expose abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government, business, and other institutions, using the moral force of investigative journalism to spur reform through the sustained spotlighting of wrongdoing.

In 2010, ProPublica became the first online news source to win a Pulitzer Prize. It has now won five Pulitzer Prizes. According to Wikipedia, "ProPublica was the brainchild of Herbert and Marion Sandler, the former chief executives of the Golden West Financial Corporation, who have committed $10 million a year to the project."

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ProPublica Ownership and Funding

Funding and ownership do not influence bias ratings. We rate the bias of content only.

Owner: Donor supported Nonprofit

In 2007, the Sandler Foundation launched ProPublica, calling it "an “independent newsroom” to conduct in-depth investigative reporting and offer its output free of charge to mainstream news outlets." 

The Sandler Foundation has provided at least $4 million to ProPublica, according to tax documents. It says that while it continues to provide monetary support for ProPublica, the news source is independent:

In addition to having excellent leadership and the right team, the Sandlers knew that for ProPublica to become a trusted source, it would need the freedom to operate independently. That meant purposefully limiting the role that they—and other ProPublica supporters—can play. (While the Sandler Foundation originally provided the lion’s share of the money needed to form ProPublica, the Sandlers reached out to others for additional funding and support. At launch, ProPublica was also backed by Atlantic Philanthropies, the JEHT Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. This diversification has continued: in 2010, Photo: Dan Nguyen, ProPublica Paul Steiger, ProPublica’s Editor in Chief This work is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND License. To view a copy of this license, visit www.GiveSmart.org/AboutUs/TermsOfUse.aspx www.GiveSmart.org ProPublica raised $3.8 million from funders besides the Sandlers - almost 40% of total revenue.)

And so although Herb and Marion clearly took an active hand in getting ProPublica underway, and continue to support fundraising efforts and operations, they’re proud of the thick firewall that separates the board from programmatic decisions. “We want the newsroom to be totally independent of the board,” Herb noted. “We know nothing about what’s going on there—we never ask, and we’re never told. We don’t find out until a story has gone public, and we get an email saying, ‘Here’s the link.’”

ProPublica received a $5 million grant meant to subsidize public health, COVID-19, and biosecurity reporting over a 3-year period from Sam Bankman-Fried. When Sam Bankman-Fried's cryptocurrency, FTX, filed for bankruptcy in November 2022, ProPublica suspended the grant. ProPublica stated it returned the $1.6 million it received from SBF's foundation, Building a Stronger Future. ProPublica co-chief executives Robin Sparkman and Stephen Engelberg wrote: "In light of more recent allegations that some of Bankman-Fried’s gains may have come from fraudulent activities, it does not seem appropriate to keep these funds."

This funding has led to accusations of bias when it came to reporting on SBF.

Other funding sources:

  • In 2010, ProPublica reportedly received a two-year contribution of $125,000 each year from the Open Society Foundations.
  • The Silicon Valley Community Foundation gave over $8 million to ProPublica, according to tax documents.
  • The Marisla Foundation has given over $2 million to ProPublica, according to tax forms.
  • The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has given nearly $3 million to ProPublica.
  • The Ford Foundation gave roughly $20 million to ProPublica.

ProPublica has been accused of bias for funding ties to organizations that also fund left-wing advocacy groups. News outlets on the right, such as The Daily Caller, have accused the Sandler Foundation of being left-wing because it also funds Demand Justice, a left-wing group headed by Hillary Clinton’s former adviser which The Daily Caller says "supports [Supreme] court packing." (For ore, see Third Party Accusations of Bias on this page).

Articles from ProPublica

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